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Subject: Effects of using a larger hex mat? rss

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MATTHEW SPRING
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Truro
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In the following snapshot...

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/164446

...a player is using a hexmat with much larger hexes than those on the mapsheets provided. Instead of straddling 2 hexes, each ship simply occupies 1 hex (like a smaller ship would do, as per the game rules).

Question: could this be done without fundamentally altering the game experience?

1. It would reduce the ship's firing arc somewhat (the 'base' of the 'cone' would, after all, be only 1 hex rather than two). (This might not be such a bad thing: John Clerk of Elgin pointed out in his highly respected work on naval tactics that, if one line of battle formed with the ships at double the intervals of the oppising line of battle, then every other ship in the second line of battle would have no target to shoot at - suggests that firing arcs were not as generous as modern games suggest!)

2. It would be *absolutely imperative* to leave one vacant hex between the stern of one ship and the bow of another, or else the player would be able to double the number of ships that he could squeeze into a line of battle - this would be very unrealistic.

3. 'turning' the ship would no longer involve swinging its stern (rear) - which might not be such a bad thing (never liked this when I used to play WSIM).

Any other points that I've missed?

Presumably, as long as one strictly observed point (2.), then it would be quite unnecessary to halve the command radiae of commanders, movement rates or firing ranges?
 
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MATTHEW SPRING
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Agreed. There's no reason why ships shouldn't continue to straddle two hexes, even when a mat with larger hexes is used.

However, one might argue that there are advantages to having ships occupy a single hex:

--The slightly less generous firing arc;

--removal of the need to swing the ship's stern into a neighbouring hex (like some kind of skidding racing car) when it turns, esp. when that might result in a collison with a ship that occupies that space.

Or am I wrong about these potential gains?
 
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Clinton Smith
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Given the scale of the game (100 meters per hex), I believe you are correct about the advantages of using larger hexes and having a ship occupy one hex instead of two. The big disadvantage, though, is that you need a rather huge map, especially for the biggest battles.
 
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MATTHEW SPRING
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I presume the two-hex arrangement in WSIM and FC allows the counter to represent the distance between ships PLUS the length of the ship itself.

A typical 74-gun ship was about 57 yards (52m) in length. As I understand it, ships were required to maintain an absolute *minimum* of 100 yards (91m) between each other when formed in line of battle. That means that the typical ship counter represents about 107 yards (97m) length - a distance that easily fits into 1 hex.

However, the Wikipedia article on 'Naval Tactics in the Age of Sail' happens to mention that Admiral Rodney, in the Battle of Martinique in the West Indies in 1780, tried to concentrate a superior force on part of his enemy’s line by throwing a greater number of British ships on the rear of the French line. He did this by 'trying to place a larger number of ships in action to windward against a smaller number to leeward by arranging them at a less distance than two-cables length.'

This suggests that 2 cables was a 'standard' distance maintained between ships within the line of battle. 1 British cable is 608 feet (as opposed to the American definition of 720 feet), so 2 cables is 1216 feet, or 405 yards, or 371 metres!

Anyone have anything else good on this?
 
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MATTHEW SPRING
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From the Royal Navy's 'Fighting Instructions':

'Whilst they are in Fight with the Enemy, to keep within half a Cable's Length one of another; or, if the Weather be bad, according to the Discretion of the Commanders.'

From an account of the Battle of the Chesapeake (Virginia Capes):

'At 11 a. m. the signal was made for a line of battle ahead at 2 cables' length asunder, the French Fleet being now clearly visible at anchor and seemingly extending across the entrance to the bay, from Cape Henry to the Middle Ground.'
'At 12.45 p. m. Admiral Graves, having observed that the French Fleet was getting under way, made the signal for the line ahead one cable's length asunder. Fifteen minutes later the signal for line ahead was hauled down and the signal made to form an east and west line at a cable's length.'
'At 3.46 Graves made the signal for a line ahead at 1 cable's length, at which time the French ships were advancing very slowly.'

However, the same article also quotes Adm. Hood, who later wrote that, at one point in the action, Graves's flagship London had 'the signal for the line at half a cable flying'.

From this, 1/2 cable to 1 cable seems to have be the norm for the distance between ships in the line of battle.
 
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Mike Nagel
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I would not advise using single-hexes for ships of the line, the main reason being the enhanced maneuverability relative to single-hex ships (frigates and the like). There's also the loss of broad side coverage. My recommendation: straddle the hexes with larger ships (or you're really playing another game).

With regards to recommended distances between ships, it's correct that 300-400 yards was more the norm. To accomodate the larger actions, I've compressed the formation sizes somewhat. Otherwise, you'd need around 12 maps to play Trafalgar! surprise
 
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MATTHEW SPRING
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Many thanks for your input, Mike.

Must say, have very much enjoyed your game so far. Although I always enjoyed WSIM, I have been waiting for a simple fleet-action game for years. I think you have cracked it!
 
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Renny Borthwick
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Hello there, I posted a few photos of Flying Colors using a larger (3") hex mat. I kept the same scale as the original game of 100 yards per hex (per inch), so a 3" hex is equivalent to 300 yards.

Ranges: I reduced the range from 10 hexes to 3 and modified the firing table slightly so it only had four range bands - 0, 1, 2 and 3 hexes. I did not modify damage inflicted and reduced Carronades to 0 & 1 hex range.

Movement: I also reduced movement to reflect the use of larger hexes. Ships still move around the same distance in inches but less actual hexes (as per the range mod above).

I also made a rule where only three ships may occupy the same hex. Any ship entering the hex of another must roll for collision.

Turning ships no longer swing their tails and are simply pointed into the desired direction then moved.

I did not modify the command distances however. This might sounds a bit odd but during play testing the reduced ranges just didn't work - so we just kept them.

I felt the game played much better using large hexes and gave players far more freedom. Having several ships per hex added to the feeling of 'close quarters combat' and far more boarding actions took place as well as some devastating zero hex range gunnery.

Cheers - and I look forward to the release of the Trafalgar Campaign and the Flying Colors supplement.


 
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